FAIRFIELD — Phase 1 of the seven-phase plan to renovate the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange complex got an official start Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
This initial project doesn’t include work on the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange structure itself, but rather replaces the nearby Green Valley interchange. For that reason, transportation and civic leaders gathered in the now-closed Green Valley park-and ride lot along the Green Valley Road onramp to westbound I-80.
Workers over the next one-and-a-half years will build a new Green Valley interchange slightly to the east of the existing one. This new interchange will have a four-lane overpass as opposed to two lanes. Workers will also build new onramps to better sort out traffic merging from Green Valley Road onto westbound I-80 and I-80 traffic exiting onto westbound Highway 12 at Jameson Canyon.
“That’s the most beneficial element for the freeway traffic,” Solano Transportation Authority Director of Projects Janet Adams said before the ceremony.
Much of the work will be done alongside the freeway and won’t affect freeway traffic, as was the case with the nearby eastbound I-80 truck scales project, she said. But Interstate 80 will have nighttime closures when workers put in the support system for the new overpass and weekend closures when they demolish the existing overpass, she said.
Construction is to be done by DeSilva Gates Construction of Dublin and cost $64 million. The entire Phase 1 project, including design and environmental mitigations, is to cost about $110 million. All seven phases will cost an estimated $740 million.
Talk of renovating the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange has gone on for more than a quarter century. Doing the environmental impact report for the massive project, which is really a series of projects to improve freeway traffic in Fairfield, took a decade.
The groundbreaking ceremony began at 10 a.m. with speeches.
“It really is a pleasure to break ground on a project I know we have been waiting for for so long,” said Bijan Sartipi, director of the state Department of Transportation District 4.
A strong, cool wind pounded the site and the noise of autos and trucks came from I-80 only a few yards away.
“Would the Highway Patrol shut down the traffic so we can hear?” joked Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, stressed that the project will improve safety on the freeway.
Several speakers praised the partnership among the Solano Transportation Authority, Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Fairfield and the Federal Highway Administration for making the project possible.
County Supervisor Jim Spering added another partner to the list, calling voters the “real heroes.” He noted that much of the money for the project came from voter-approved measures, both statewide and regional.
“If it wasn’t for the voters, these resources wouldn’t be here,” Spering said.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty, California Transportation Commissioner James Madaffer and Federal Highway Administration Director of Program Development Jermaine Hannon also spoke.
Future phases of Interstates 80 and 680 interchange complex renovations include building a new Red Top Road interchange on I-680, a connection for Business Center Drive to Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon and a combined Interstates 80-680-Highway 12 interchange near the entrance to Jameson Canyon. But money must still be found to build these projects.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.